­One of the significant business model developments encouraged by digital renaissance is the birth of digital marketplaces, professionally known as ‘eCommerce’. The rise of eCommerce came with an entire evolution to brands’ experiences, market dynamics and consumer empowerment. The Brandberries has exclusively interviewed Suzanne Stahlie , Marketing Director of Tolomei, on her take on how eCommerce empowers brands.

BB: The global eCommerce market has been on a massive rise, unlocking a wide multitude of opportunities for retail and non-retail brands as well. Can you shed some lights on how eCommerce can be a pivotal growth imperative for businesses ?

SS: First of all, e-commerce is growing but still represents only about 12 % of the retail market so there is great room for growth. This, linked to easily accessible platforms such as Shopify, and increased knowledge of user behavior online allow for more brands to launch an ecommerce business.

Suzanne Stahlie

E-commerce is no longer reserved for product brands but also services.  Brands are offering online experiences rather than a sales plateform.  The ecommerce site becomes the digital expression of the brand and is closely linked to the social media ecosystem. 

This allows for strong engagement with consumers as brands publish articles, act as inspiration for consumers, and increase direct interaction with clients. This includes chatbots as well as unpacking rituals that become more and more elaborate and intimate.

One might argue that a digital experience or interaction with a brand might be even more intimate now a-days than the one offered at a physical point of sale where sales people don’t know your name and seem to have less time to dedicate to you. 

If this trend increases, there is huge potential to create loyalty with consumers and recruit new ones provided the customer experience is seamless. In addition, e-commerce allows brands to open new markets and target new clients at limited costs.

BB: Due to the scaling demand for technology in the online retail scene, brands hand in hand with retailers and wholesalers must implement omnichannel experience strategies. Please comment.

SS: Consumers are increasing their expectations.  Amazon being the benchmark – clients expect immediate reaction from brands – product availability and amazing customer service during and post purchase.  Direct to consumer brands like Sezane have made their path to purchase admirable. Traditional retail brands need to challenge themselves to equal those benchmarks in order to remain competitive in the digital arena. 

BB: What are the considerations brands should consciously be aware of on their road to a successful digital transformation strategy ?

SS: In order to succeed, brands need to define a roadmap, a project leader and a project team setting clear objectives and deadlines. A detailed flow structure / architecture is essential to successful completion. Everyone from logistics to customer service need to be involved.

And in addition involving the company at different stages especially retail sales reps to ensure everyone has the same objectives and work together to make it work. 

BB: Several global data reports have brightly spotlighted the potential growth eCommerce has created for global fashion brands. From Le Tanneur strategy manual, what are the notable opportunities eCommerce has created for the fashion and apparel industry ?

SS: We have noticed that there are an increasing amount of direct to consumer brands that launch on Instagram and e-commerce simultaneously and use very aggressive new client acquisition techniques on social media to gain followers and jump start their business.  This has proven successful provided the brand has a real style or promise and/or positioning.  No need for physical boutiques to gain consumers.

In addition, digital has also opened a market for influencers to launch their own brands, sometimes even self funded via crowdfunding .  Therefore , more and more competition and fragmented business distributed through more and more players.  There is therefore an increased need for brands to boost their social media team and interaction with consumers .

If the brand strategy and identity is right, small confidential brands can become very successful in a short period of time.  Left to see how long those brands last. 

BB: Consumer brands are facing numerous challenges related to eCommerce. From your point of view, and in a nutshell, what are the challenges and how can brands overcome these challenges ? 

SS: I have pointed out several already but the biggest challenge for traditional retailers is their capacity to change quickly and be nimble. DTC brands do not have the barriers that traditional retailers do – they can produce content fast, post and make changes on their ecommerce and social media even faster, they are immediate. It is that challenge that we all face and we need to overcome. 

Staffing your digital team with the right talent, who has not grown up with the traditional laws of retail. Defining a strong social media strategy, a seamless experience in both retail and digital and an effective digital media-buying strategy are all essential ingredients for success.